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VIFF 2008 – Donkey in Lahore director Faramarz K-Rahber

Donkey In Lahore - At VIFF 2008
by Jason Whyte

“A gothic young man from Brisbane, Australia falls in love with a young Muslim girl in Pakistan and decides to convert to Islam in order to be able to get married with her.” Director Faramarz K-Rahber on his film “Donkey in Lahore” which has one final, additional screening at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (September 25 – October 10).

Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? If you’re a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the festival experience. Do you plan to attend VIFF for the screenings?

This is my first film in VIFF. I am planning to attend to the festival this year but I will get there five days after my last screening. At the same time I am happy to meet with my film audience and answer their questions if there is any! I have been producing and directing documentaries for the last 12 years.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …” Finish this sentence, please!

I always thought when I grow up I want to be a pilot! But interestingly enough I remember from very early age I was so mesmerized by Cinema and TV! I never forget that at the age of seven or eight I made a film projector out of a show box, two wooden stick, a magnifying glass, a piece of film and a torch! I remember clearly I used to wait impenitently every afternoon for darkness of the night in order to be able to project the picture on a white wall back of the houses in my alley for my friends.

While you were making the movie, were you thinking about the future release of the film, be it film festivals, paying customers, critical response, and so forth?

Interesting question! As a producer I had to have some plans for releasing the film but as a director I normally don’t want to think about those issues since I think a film has to talk for itself and there will always some critical response about the film and so on.

About the festivals this is fact that not every film is going to be receive by every film festival. There are always some rejections and some great responds toward the film.
For this particular film of mine “Donkey in Lahore” so far there has been so many great responds from so many film festivals around the world, which is fantastic!

How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.

I had been a friend of Brian’s for over five years before I began filming “Donkey in
Lahore”. His talent as a puppeteer and his near-religious devotion to Goth culture had always fascinated me.

Shortly after he returned from his first trip to Pakistan 2000, he began telling me what he had experienced there. It quickly became clear that the people and culture he encountered in Pakistan had made a big impact on his life. Through our conversations, I also found out that had met a Muslim girl, and that he had fallen madly and deeply in love with her.

When he told me he was planning to convert to Islam in order to marry her, I realized he was about to throw himself into a dramatic and life-changing period in his life. From that point on, I decided to follow his every step so I could capture the journey from start to finish. The question was burning in my mind: what would happen when this Goth returns to Lahore to try convincing a traditional Pakistani family to allow him to marry their girl originally I had thought that it would take me about two years to film all the scenes. I was wrong. It took me five years to complete "Donkey in Lahore”. Life can’t be hurried along – it takes as long as it takes – and this film has truly reaffirmed my belief that patience and perseverance are the most important qualities a documentary filmmaker must possess.

I hope that "Donkey in Lahore" leads viewers to question what the most important things are when establishing a relationship with another human being and what role cultural values; customs and tradition should be allowed to play in this delicate process.
What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?

There were many challenges on my way in different stages of making this film. For example since I decided to make this film as observational as possible therefore I had to spend a lot of time (almost live with the subjects of the film) and see what was happening in their lives. That demanded a lot personal life sacrificing which I did for the sake of capturing the story.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

The style of the film was observational. I’ve done the camera work and sound because of the nature of this film (being observational) and the unknown duration of the production I decided to conduct the filming sessions by my self. I became a fly on the wall and as I said on above I almost lived with them.

Talk a bit about the experiences (festival or non-festival) that you have had with this particular film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?

Many prestige film festivals around the world have received this film very well. During the last 9 months this film has gone to more that 25film festivals. The highlight of them were IDFA, Tribeca, Singapore, Goteborg and of course VIFF.

There are so many interesting stories happened and so many audience have express their opinions and we had so many very interesting in the Q & A during the last few months while I’ve toured with this film.

I could say easily that ninety nine percent of the time the audiences become so interested in the film that after almost two hours screening of the film they would stay back and want to ask a lot questions about the film and the characters. This has been an exciting experience for me to meet my film’s audience and learn more about what they think of the film.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

There are few people who I normally look up at their works. This list is long but if I want to drop few names they would be Master Abas Kiarostrami from Iran, and David Caesar from Australia.

How far do you think you would want to go in this industry? Do you see yourself working on larger stories for a larger budget under the studio system, or do you feel that you would like to continue down the independent film path?

This is a very difficult question to answer since the industry has been changing so rapidly during the last decade and therefore the sources as well as method of funding have changed too.

If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?

I would probably would have been working with NGOs and UN in Educational areas.

Do you think that you have “made it” in this profession yet? If you don’t believe so, what do you think would happen for that moment to occur?

I don’t think there is such thing for me to say that “I made it “since I look at my courier from different angles. I have achieved many of my goals but there are many more to achieve in the future.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

The media’s response to film is very important.

What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local megaplex?

Good on you Mate!

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start?

Filmmaking is very affordable craft these days especially for those who are new in this industry! What they need is just a good story and clear vision. The rest comes with it!

And finally…what is your all time favorite motion picture, and why?

There are many! I can’t even give you a list since it’s going to be really long!

This is one of the many films screening at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. For more information on when this film is playing and to order tickets, point your browser to – Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 10/06/08 20:06:35
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